First in India, Devanahalli traffic cops pool money to save accident victims

First in India, Devanahalli traffic cops pool money to save accident victims

The traffic police in Devanahalli, on the northern outskirts of Bengaluru, would not have stood apart had they focused on policing alone. But moved by the plight of victims who sometimes die owing to delay in treatment, they decided to go the extra mile.

Instead of waiting for the victims’ relatives to come and pay for medical treatment during the ‘Golden Hour’, the police decided to pool money to save precious lives. And this happened long before the state government announced a scheme in memory of Harish Nanjappa, a man who donated his eyes even as his body was cut in half in a gory road accident in February. Under the Mukhyamantri Santwana ‘Harish’ scheme, the government pays up to Rs 25,000 for medical treatment of accident victims within 48 hours.

The police station has jurisdiction over a stretch that is notorious for fatal road accidents. Since the roads are good, drivers speed. On many stretches, the average speed is 120-160 kmph. Ballari Road, Yelahanka, MEIT junction, Kannamangala, Indian Air Force area, etc, witness eight accidents every month, including two fatal ones. Most of the victims are pedestrians.

The police often struggle to immediately identify the victims and trace their relatives. But hospitals refuse treatment until payment is made. And who will pay when there are no relatives? The result is the loss of the ‘Golden Hour’.

Devanahalli traffic police inspector, Rajesh L Y, said he was so moved by the victims’ plight that he decided to create a corpus. “Many lives are lost because of delay in medical relief. When we take them to hospital, doctors prescribe CT scan and other tests that require money.”

One day, he told his staff during a roll call that they should have an Emergency Relief Fund (ERF) by way of personal contributions. He donated Rs 5,000 and his colleagues too chipped in but contributions were voluntary.

The initiative is probably the first-of-its-kind in India. It works like this. The police have a corpus of Rs 15,000. The moment they learn about an accident, the officer rushing to the spot carries the money. When the victim is taken to hospital, the immediate medical bill is footed by this corpus.

Rajesh said they were able to save eight lives after creating the corpus. “In several cases, the victim’s relatives returned the money. In some cases, the victim dies despite our best efforts but we never demanded the money back from the relatives,” he said.

He, however, said they could fund accident relief in stray incidents but not on a regular basis.

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